Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How Red Hat's cloud portfolio fits together

I've frequently said and written that cloud computing isn't about a single point product or solution. It's about delivering capabilities across hybrid infrastructures in open and portable ways. Red Hat's coming at this vision from a number of different angles with a broad portfolio. The downside is that it's a rapidly evolving area and we probably haven't been as good as we could have been at explaining how the various moving parts connect and otherwise interact.

I took the occasion of the OpenStack festivities in Portland, OR this week to put together a fairly long blog post that delves into how the "cloud-specific" parts of our portfolio mesh. (This isn't the whole story; for example, Red Hat Enterprise Linux provides important foundational technologies for our cloud offerings in addition to providing a consistent runtime across a wide range of infrastructure.) I encourage those interested to check out the original post on our press web pages, but I wanted to hit some of the highlights here. I've touched on some of these topics previously but it's time to revisit them as projects, products, and my thinking about their relationships have all evolved.

For our purposes here, I'm going to discuss four basic groups of related capabilities:

  1. Enterprise virtualization management and Infrastructure-as-a-Service
  2. Hybrid cloud operations management
  3. Platform-as-a-Service
  4. Application lifecycle management

Enterprise virtualization management and Infrastructure-as-a-Service

A huge amount of activity is taking place within this layer as it evolves to supporting hybrid application models spanning both traditional enterprise applications and new-style cloud workloads. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization is focused on the former. OpenStack is focused on the latter; a massive developer community is helping it become the best platform for stateless, modular, cloud-oriented applications. I'm working on a paper, intended for publication in a couple of months, that discusses these different workload styles in much more detail.

Hybrid cloud operations management

Enterprises also need features like chargeback, policy, orchestration, reporting and automation. And, they don't want OpenStack to become a stand-alone silo, isolated from their existing and future enterprise virtualization platforms and public clouds. Red Hat CloudForms is focused on solving both of these problems.

Consider first the need for cloud operations management tools. CloudForms tools can discover, automate, monitor, measure and govern virtualization and cloud infrastructures. Operations management is fundamentally about service lifecycle management, which provides for provisioning, intelligent workload management, metering, cost transparency and the retirement of resources when they are no longer required. In December 2012, Red Hat acquired ManageIQ with the aim of rapidly bringing these capabilities (shipping in the ManageIQ EVM product today) to the CloudForms platform.

The second need—avoiding new silos—requires hybrid cloud management, which spans heterogeneous platforms, whether on-premise or public clouds, and maintains application portability across those environments. Providing such capabilities was a guiding principle of CloudForms from the beginning: Cut across islands of technology, preserve existing IT investments, and create common resource pools across a broad set of infrastructure.

Our plan is to aggregate this functionality and deliver it within a single product later this year. 


We also plan on integrating CloudForms with OpenShift Enterprise for operational management of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) environments. OpenShift provides secure multi-tenancy within operating system instances using a variety of “container,” security containment (SELinux), resource management (Cgroups), and global namespace technologies. CloudForms can augment these capabilities with the ability to provision, monitor and scale the nodes themselves on OpenStack, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and other platforms.

Application lifecycle management

We also intend to continue our work to tightly marry application lifecycle management to other aspects of open hybrid cloud management. Red Hat Network Satellite has a long track record of helping customers manage large-scale Red Hat Enterprise Linux deployments using standard operating environments for efficiency and consistency. As operational management evolves to meet the needs of hybrid cloud infrastructures, the application lifecycle management provided by Satellite will evolve to handle both today's and tomorrow's applications.

In closing

I've given you something of a whirlwind tour. Myself and others at Red Hat are working on making this info available in a variety of forms and levels of depth but it's a topic that I get asked about frequently enough that I thought it merited this relatively brief update.

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